Make your used car marketing more effective

  10 October 2018

Interested in enhancing the effectiveness of your used car marketing? Well, it seems subtle changes could help to deliver better results. At the heart of this is understanding what motivates customers to buy.

For insight, let’s look to the largest dedicated motoring opinion panel in Europe, the AA Driver’s Poll, which surveys AA members on a broad range of motoring and seasonal attributes. The data below is based upon the views of between 16,328 and 18,077 people (overall responses vary month by month) on their used car buying and ownership experiences.

  • Of those who have ever bought a used car, reliability and safety (25%) are their most important considerations. (April 2017)
  • Of those who have visited a garage for a service in the last two years, two fifths (39%) said they could have got work done cheaper elsewhere but paid more to go to a garage they trust. (January 2018)
  • A third of drivers (33%) would most likely use money from their savings to pay for unplanned repairs on their vehicle if the cost was around £500; 22% would borrow money with the majority of these most likely to use their credit card (18%). (May 2018)
  • Apart from price and size, reliability (45%) is the biggest influence on drivers when deciding to choose a replacement car. (April 2018)

This first-hand consumer insight tells us that when it comes to buying and servicing their car, consumers are concerned about reliability and the negative cost implications for unplanned repairs, and that trust in the dealer is a critical commodity.

Unsurprisingly, car buyers want a reliable car from a dealer they can have faith in, and by implication from their car servicing observations, well over a third would pay a premium to buy from such a dealer. Given the greater cost, it could well be more than this, but the data on this detail is not available.

It strikes me that dealer marketing needs to work harder to build trust and confidence in the business and the cars on offer. Now, this could hardly be seen as ‘rocket science,’ but a review of online car classified sites suggests that building trust and value in the dealership and the quality of its stock are often undersold.

Certainly, dealers may use copy online that reflects trust and quality, but smart, subtle cues that can engender greater belief subliminally should not be overlooked.

Would-be car buyers, don’t just discover their next car online, they learn about the dealer as well and dealers can win by developing content that creates value and differentiates their offer.

For me there are three solid building blocks that every dealer can adopt:

  1. Don’t be obsessed with price, ask “what else do we offer?” and promote it
  2. Invest time/money in better online and social media content – keep it fresh and interesting. Let would-be buyers know about your business, its history, ethos, values and role in the local community, and encourage feedback from car buyers. When it comes to the car, if it is reliable according to other industry surveys, say so
  3. Develop the role of warranties as a trust-building tool in your online promotion by including an image of the warranty options available to potential customers in the image portfolio accompanying each car.

In short, work to solve the concerns that car buyers tell us they have.

Author Vince Brand is head of creative services at AutoProtect, a commercial partner in Auto Retail Bulletin. Find out more at

Start your free 14 day trial

Get free access to our Bulletin, Agenda & Profit for 14 days.

After 14 days we will auto bill your credit or debit card unless the order is cancelled.

As an auto retail executive you need insightful and unique industry intelligence to boost your business potential. Here’s a taste of what Auto Retail Network has to offer:

  • Get informed and boost your business potential
  • More than 1,200 fellow executives have joined us
    since launch
  • Independent, carefully crafted, unique content relevant to you and your business
  • Develop a greater awareness of market trends and opportunities
  • Access to a wide range of materials whenever, wherever and however you want it
  • Significant discounts on ARN events, reports and
    other publications